Perspectives on greener product development and manufacturing from Sustainable Minds, our partners, customers and contributors.

Teamwork

The AfriGadget Blog: a study in doing more with less

By Lorne Craig on February 1, 2010

Are North Americans just a bit too comfortable to design products for the next century? Sure, we can readily see the need for a latte maker that gets firmer foam from organic soy milk, or a computer mouse that lets us spend 4 more hours a day at our Dickensian digital drudge-stations. But is this what the world really needs right now, when a billion people are living on less than $2 a day?

These are the questions that go through my mind as I read the AfriGadget Blog, a showcase of bootstrap product design (sometimes using pieces from actual boots) as practiced by innovators all across the African continent. A team of blog contributors and readers contribute pictures, videos and stories to this fascinating blog that are “a testament to Africans bending the little they have to their will, using creativity to overcome life’s challenges,” according to the editors.

Greenpeace releases its guide to greener electronics

By Sustainable Minds on January 25, 2010

Technology companies are starting to understand that sustainability is increasingly important to their customers. But as a consumer, how do you measure ‘green-ness’ across products that are sourced all over the world, and are combinations of processes that include hundreds of vendors? Recently, Greenpeace announced its ranking of 18 electronics companies at the Consumer Electronics Show (what better place?), along with a point-by-point breakdown of how they arrived at their scores. Categories include chemicals management , PVC-free and/or BFR-free models, voluntary take-back, use of recycled plastic content, and eleven more. This year, the leaders are Apple, Sony Ericsson and Nokia. Trailing the pack are Nintendo, Microsoft and Lenovo.
Read more

Part I: What intrinsic qualities enable sustainable societies?

By Ken Hall on January 18, 2010

This is the first of a three-part posting on the concept of intrinsic sustainability. In this post, Ken Hall describes the essential qualities of a sustainable society. Subsequent posts deal with the challenges of sustainable design teams and the built environment.

Miriam-Webster defines intrinsic as belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing. The challenge we face today is that sustainability is not intrinsic to our current way of thinking, designing, building, conducting business, and relating to each other and the places where we live.

Achieving high-performance environments requires substantial changes from business-as-usual thinking – for designers, builders and occupants. This is especially true when attempting to achieve a net-zero or carbon neutral environmental design.

First and foremost, the entire human chain – design team, client, and eventual users of the facility – must all share the intention to achieve predefined performance mandates, even if that means living within limits and being more flexible about received notions of comfort.

Secondly, we must relearn the principles of passive design and integrate them with clean technologies to deliver appropriate renewable energy for the needs of a sustainable society.

IDSA partnership aims to mainstream innovation in greener product design

By Sustainable Minds on January 11, 2010

Today we are excited to announce a new partnership with Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA), the world’s oldest and largest association for product designers. IDSA and Sustainable Minds have made a commitment to work together to advance the adoption and integration of ecodesign and sustainability practices in product design.

Greener product design means designing the whole product system from a life cycle perspective. Understanding what this means and how to design this way is the first step.

We are bringing together important tools and education for members, including offering Sustainable Minds LCA software at a discount. The software enables rapid iteration and comparison of new product concepts, and provides quantified environmental performance information during the design process to help make design and manufacturing trade-off decisions.

Test your green-Q with our year-end trivia quiz

By Sustainable Minds on December 28, 2009

During these short days at the end of the year when you find yourself wondering what to do next (with or without all that company in your house), try this Green Trivia Quiz. It’s taken from our perusals of some of the quirkier green stories we’ve seen this year.

How to green the supply chain: Findings from a best practices study

By Vijay Kanal on December 21, 2009

The impact of supply chains on the overall environmental footprint may surprise you. Walmart says that 88% of its carbon footprint is outside of its walls, in the control of its suppliers. Is it any wonder then that the world’s largest retailer is spending so much of its time, money and leverage, to get its suppliers to become more sustainable?

Yet in a best practices study we conducted recently with 25 leading corporations — representing over $800 Billion in market value — we found that sustainability in the supply chain was one of the major areas they acknowledged needed improvement.

New in Sustainable Minds Release 1.1

By Sustainable Minds on December 16, 2009

Following on the heels of Release 1.0, we've made it easier for more people to find out, learn about and subscribe to Sustainable Minds. In this release:

  • Educator and student subscriptions
  • Affiliate referral program
  • Software enhancements

Educator and student subscriptions
As part of the Designers Accord community, and as 'Summit Sponsor' of the Global Summit on Design Education & Sustainability, we are committed to helping educators create undergraduate, graduate and professional development curriculum to integrate environmental sustainability into design, engineering and business programs.

Reflections: The Designers Accord global summit on sustainability & education

By Guest contributors on December 10, 2009

This post, which originally appeared on Core77, was submitted by guest contributor Andrea Mangini, a Lead Experience Designer for Adobe Systems, where she has spent the past decade specializing in "design for designers". Andrea is co-founder of Adobe's employee Green Team, and an advocate for sustainable design and innovation on behalf of her employers and users. Follow Andrea @jingleyfish. Sustainable Minds was the Summit Sponsor.

The future of digital TV could be a lot friendlier

By Lorne Craig on December 7, 2009

This fall, our family got Digital TV from our local service provider. I’ll call them ‘Telco’ - those of you south of the border, feel free to substitute your local Comcast-like corporation. The promo deal sucked us in, our friendly installer managed to figure out how to wire both ends of a 1920’s apartment without stapling cable everywhere and now we can vegetate digitally. (Of course, the first thing I did with this marvel of new technology was use the PVR to record a Space Channel marathon of 30-year-old Star Trek episodes.)

But even as the system was being assembled in our home, I wondered about its footprint. In order to decode and deliver the signals for digital TV and broadband Internet, we took delivery of: two set top boxes, a PVR, a wireless router, a network router and a switcher.

I wondered, how much power do they use? Are all the electronics compliant with RoHS? (the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive or RoHS adopted in 2003 by the EU that restricts the use of hazardous materials in electronics) What happens to these units when they needs to be replaced? And what happens to the leftover boxes, plastic and Styrofoam after installation?

The eight biggest myths about sustainability in business

By Vijay Kanal on November 30, 2009

In our research, and in engagements with dozens of Fortune 1000 companies, we are sometimes surprised at the reluctance to pursue environmental sustainability initiatives, because of misconceptions about their cost or benefits. But we have also seen how some companies have embraced sustainability whole-heartedly, and are profiting from it.